Ok, I’ll admit this ride is not a secret but it is so beautiful and challenging that I can’t leave it out. You start at the Estes Park Visitor’s Center and head up Wonderview and into Rocky Mountain National Park(there is a fee to ride into the park). Once you hit Fall River Road you start your 6,000 ft climb to the highest visitor’s center in the country. Once the ride turns onto Trail Ridge Road I recommend extra caution. Consider a different route if the weather is not ideal. If you are not comfortable riding in traffic then I would also skip this ride. In the event I haven’t scared you off this ride yet then you are in for the most beautiful ride of your life. 25% of this ride will take place above 10,000ft and over 1,000ft of climbing is above treeline. You will be gasping for air and loving every second of it. If you defeat this mountain you will remember it forever.
Why I recommend this ride:
This ride is a national treasure for cycling; a true bucket list ride.
This ride starts and ends at our Via Bicycle Cafe. The benefits of parking at Via is they have plenty of parking available, a mechanic with skills learned from the pro tour, and all the food and coffee you could need post ride.
The route starts by taking you on a tour of the Highway 34 canyon on a 2,000ft descent. The epic turns at 35+ miles per hour are made even better with the generous lane size and amazing views of rock formations as you descend into Drake.
After 11 miles you turn left onto County Road 43. This road was totally destroyed in the recent flood and with construction ending late 2016 this road has become the smoothest stretch in Colorado. Over the next 8 miles you will gain back all 2,000 feet as you approach Glen Haven. Don’t be surprised when you don’t see a single car on this climb.
As you leave the last part of the canyon you enter the Town of Glen Haven where you should strongly consider a short rest at the general store for a famous cinnamon roll. Once the sugar and carbs are safely in your stomach it’s time to climb the Switchbacks. If you have the legs you can try and take the KOM from the locals. This short and punchy segment averages a 10% grade and climbs 700ft in less than a mile. When you finally reach the top, if you have any air in your lungs it will all be taken away with the views of Long’s peak and all of the Estes Valley. At this point you have 4 miles of descent and flats to work out all that lactic acid build up as you head back to Via Bicycle Cafe.
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Tips: Crush your descent down Highway 34, but save a little gas in the tank for the switchbacks.